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The Things They Carried Summary


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The Important Things They Brought (1990 ), a historic metafiction novel by Tim O’Brien, is a collection of narratives about the Vietnam War. The stories are connected significant episodes, and O’Brien (who fought in the Vietnam War from 1969-1970) includes himself in the events. The Important Things They Carried is O’Brien’s third book about the Vietnam War, and with over two million copies sold, it has been commonly acclaimed. The novel won many awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Reward and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The Important Things They Brought includes twenty-two episodes or short stories. Each is told by a fictionalized version of the author. In the titular story, O’Brien describes the devices each soldier was needed to bring depending upon his private job (gunner, mechanic, and so on). Each soldier also carries personal products, such as Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, who brings letters from a female called Martha. Nevertheless, when a squadron member is killed, Cross burns the letters so he will not be sidetracked by them once again. In “Love,” O’Brien asks Cross if he may compose a story about Martha. Cross has long loved Martha, however she does not return the belief, therefore he concurs, hoping that one day, she will check out the story and think of him.

In “Spin,” O’Brien keeps in mind a few of the uncommon good times from the war– minutes of friendship amongst the squadron members. Between fights, they find out how to rain dance. Later they compose a hate letter to the draft board as a joke. In “On the Rainy River,” O’Brien has actually just finished college and is instantly prepared into the Vietnam War. Since he protests the war, he initially decides to run away the draft. Nevertheless, at the Canadian border, he comes across an elderly complete stranger who talks through his circumstance with him. O’Brien reports to the draft.

The episodes “Opponents” and “Pals” are 2 halves of a whole. The story tells the development of the relationship between 2 soldiers, Strunk and Jensen. Initially, they hate each other, however gradually they are drawn more detailed together through sharing a lot of the horror of war. Eventually, they become buddies and make a guarantee to each other: if one is injured, the other will eliminate him as an act of grace.

O’Brien listens to his fellow soldiers tell stories about the war in “How to Inform a Real War Story.” He shows that, unlike the huge events, the day-to-day happenings can be changed and overemphasized without anyone understanding the genuine fact. In the end, accuracy in storytelling is not as crucial as the purpose of the story itself.

“The Dentist” is about Curt Lemon, a fellow soldier who has actually died. O’Brien knows little about him however shares a memory of when Lemon was scheduled to go to the army dental practitioner. Lemon passed out from fear, however later, he demanded having a tooth pulled just to prove his bravery to his squadron.
In “Sweetie of the Song Tra Bone,” soldier Rat Kiley organizes to have his girlfriend flown to a peaceful location of Vietnam just to watch her escape to sign up with the Vietnamese guerillas. “Stockings,” explains Henry Dobbins, a soldier who uses his sweetheart’s stockings around his neck, even after she breaks up with him, due to the fact that he believes they are a good luck charm. The squadron discovers a church service being held in a deserted structure in “Church.” The monks share food with them.

In “The Man I Killed,” O’Brien keeps in mind a man he eliminated throughout the war. Guilt-ridden, he pictures what the male’s life was like, supposing that he was a peace-loving individual. In “Ambush,” O’Brien’s child asks if he eliminated anyone during the war; he lies and says no. He then reviews an ambush in which he killed a young man. “Style” describes the confusion the squadron feels upon seeing a young Vietnamese woman dancing in the remains of her destroyed village. The males debate whether she is performing a routine or whether she simply likes to dance.

Norman Bowker has endured the war in “Speaking of Guts,” however he is alone– no friends, no household. With no one to speak to, he participates in imaginary discussions to work through his memories of the war. In “Notes,” it is 3 years after the war’s end, and Bowker has actually dedicated suicide. O’Brien assesses the possibility that he might be driven to do the exact same were it not for his writing.

“In The Field” relates how, when a soldier named Kiowa is eliminated, a number of squadron members take personal responsibility for his death as they search for his body. O’Brien confesses in “Excellent Type” that his tale in “Ambush” is false. He did not kill the young man, however just saw him pass away. He discusses that the emotion evoked by a story is more vital than the fact. Later, in “Sightseeing tour,” O’Brien tells of his check out to the area of Kiowa’s death years later with his child. He leaves a pair of moccasins for his fallen associate, making peace with the disaster.

Wounded and tended to by Bobby Jorgenson, in “The Ghost Soldiers,” O’Brien says after he almost dies due to Jorgenson’s incompetence, he hires a fellow soldier to help him get vengeance. They pose as opponent soldiers to scare Jorgenson, but he shows to be a brave guy, so O’Brien gives up on his prepare for vengeance. In “Night Life,” Rat Kiley has an anxious breakdown from the constant pressure of being a medic in the war. He shoots himself in the foot to get away the front lines, however no one calls him a coward. The soldiers tell stories about their deceased enjoyed ones in “The Lives of the Dead.” In this way, the dead continue to live.

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